People Are Tweeting About Ellen DeGeneres – And Their Stories Suggest She’s Not As Nice Off Screen

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For the majority of her enduring career, Ellen DeGeneres has been regarded as one of the nicest women on TV. Her eponymous daytime show even thrives on feelgood celebrity chat, heartwarming true-life tales and charitable acts. But if one Twitter thread is to be believed, the comedienne is a very different person when the cameras are turned off. Yes, the stories people told could show Ellen in a whole new light.

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Yet Ellen DeGeneres has built up her all-round good egg reputation largely thanks to her syndicated talk show. It’s here where the lives of many members of the public have been changed. For example, in 2017 The Ellen DeGeneres Show paid for 42 state school scholarships for students from a Brooklyn charter school. This totaled $1.6 million – making it the program’s biggest ever giveaway.

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DeGeneres also warmed the nation’s hearts by dipping into her personal fortune on several occasions. She donated a whopping $1 million to footballer J.J. Watt’s relief fund for the devastating Hurricane Harvey, for instance. The star helped to raise that same amount of money for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles as well.

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As well as splashing the cash on great causes, DeGeneres has used her fame to highlight inequality and injustice. She’s been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, for example, and the fight for same-sex marriage. DeGeneres also delivered an inspiring speech at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards. The star told youngsters, “Embrace who you are, because being unique is very, very important and fitting in is not really all that matters.”

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The Ellen DeGeneres Show has become well-known for giving ordinary American citizens their chances to shine, too. Yes, with invitations to the set, the daytime hit affords untold numbers of local business owners, child prodigies and talented unknowns their 15 minutes of fame. And the comedienne fulfilled many members of the public’s dreams by arranging meetings with their favorite showbiz stars.

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And DeGeneres has almost made fellow daytime talk show queen Oprah Winfrey look tightfisted when it comes to handing out prizes. Those audience members lucky enough to take part in the many on-stage competitions are often given more gifts than they can physically carry. The show even has a regular annual promotion named Twelve Days of Giveaways.

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Plus, Barack Obama couldn’t stop gushing about DeGeneres’ inherent niceness when he presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. He said, “Today, every day, in every way, [DeGeneres] counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together, inspires us to be better. One joke, one dance at a time.”

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Speaking to Parade magazine in 2011, DeGeneres explained why she chooses to embrace a positive spirit on her daytime talk show. She said, “The world is filled with negativity. I want people to watch me and think, ‘I feel good, and I’m going to make somebody else feel good today.’”

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So it’s understandable that many of those whose lives DeGeneres enriches have spoken out in favor of the comedienne. On a personal blog named Shalavee, a fan recalled the moment she first met the star in the early 1990s. She wrote, “I remember how lovely and sweet and very talented I thought [DeGeneres] was. I certainly do hope that she is very happy in the life she’s living because I know she would wish me to be.”

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However, even DeGeneres herself has admitted that the ever-smiling, ever-happy personality she presents on screen isn’t always her true self. In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, the comedienne explained, “The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host. There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”

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DeGeneres acknowledged that her public persona can sometimes leave her frustrated when she’s out and about minding her own business. She said, “There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like, ‘You’re not dancing!’ Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”

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Yet DeGeneres slammed the rumors that the working environment of her daytime TV show isn’t a particularly happy one. She went on, “That bugs me if someone is saying that because it’s an outright lie. The first day I said, ‘The one thing I want is everyone here to be happy and proud of where they work, and if not, don’t work here.’ No one is going to raise their voice or not be grateful. That’s the rule to this day.”

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Unfortunately for DeGeneres, though, negative gossip continues to circulate. And in 2019 she suffered a significant backlash thanks to her handling of two very different matters. First, the public chastised the star for how she supported Kevin Hart. Hart had just been dropped from his Oscars hosting gig after homophobic tweets from his past reemerged online.

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DeGeneres initially criticized those who had called out Hart for his offensive comments when he appeared on her talk show. And then the star revealed that she’d personally attempted to get the funnyman reinstated as host in a call to the ceremony’s organizers. But the LGBTQ community didn’t appreciate how DeGeneres seemingly dismissed their concerns.

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DeGeneres misjudged the mood of the nation when she responded to the furor over her friendship with George W. Bush as well. The 43rd POTUS had previously supported a constitutional amendment opposing marriage between couples of the same sex. And after DeGeneres appeared at an NFL game with Bush, many fans felt she’d once again betrayed the LGBTQ community.

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Yet DeGeneres stoked the flames even more when she refused to apologize for her affiliation with Bush. She told viewers, “We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that [it’s] okay that we’re all different. Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything, doesn’t mean that [I won’t] be friends with them.”

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The DeGeneres backlash continued in March 2020 in a Twitter thread started by Kevin T. Porter. The comedian and podcast host took to the social media platform to encourage those who had a horror story about DeGeneres to spill the beans.

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Porter tweeted, “Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen DeGeneres always talks about! She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive. Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one with $2 to [the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank].”

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But Porter, who co-hosts podcasts such as Gilmore Guys and Good Christian Fun, may have underestimated just how many nightmarish DeGeneres tales are out there. And his bank account was soon in danger of being wiped out – as a whole host of Twitter users contributed to the thread.

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It appears as though DeGeneres has rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way throughout her glittering career. Benjamin Siemon, a TV writer, was one of the many individuals who claims to have had first-hand experience of the comedienne’s apparent unpleasant nature. He said, “Everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.”

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And Siemon didn’t finish there. He claimed, “A new staff member was told ‘every day she picks someone different to really hate. It’s not your fault, just suck it up for the day and she’ll be mean to someone else the next day.’ They didn’t believe it but it ended up being entirely true.”

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Another TV writer claimed that DeGeneres can be super demanding. Alison Freer was once working on the set of another production filmed on the same Warner Bros. lot as The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She alleged, “[It] was our showrunner’s 50th birthday. Caterer grilling steaks outside for special fancy lunch. [DeGeneres] sent someone over to demand they stop as she doesn’t eat meat. She’s the worst.”

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Other claims were based on hearsay and friend-of-a-friend accounts. But they still made for juicy reading. One Twitter user alleged that Karen Kilgariff had been sacked as The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s head writer for refusing to be a scab amid a writer’s strike. They claimed, “When [Kilgariff] wouldn’t cross the picket line she was fired and [Degeneres] never spoke to her again.”

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Another individual claimed on Twitter that DeGeneres never even acknowledged a friend who had spent two years working as a writer on the daytime show. The user wrote, “[She] told me [that DeGeneres] didn’t greet her once. In fact, upon employment, staff were told they weren’t allowed to talk to her.”

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According to another Twitter user, DeGeneres is too willing to get rid of her staff when they fail to meet her high demands. The star allegedly once told a new hire to take her fancy vehicle for a spin. And when the assistant, who apparently expressed her discomfort with the task, crashed the car into a pole, they immediately lost their job.

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Josh Levesque, a comedian, contributed to the thread with a story that suggests DeGeneres isn’t a fan of mixing with her staff. Levesque recounted a story that had reportedly been told by a production assistant friend who had worked on the show when Russell Brand once guested. The wild-haired Brit had been chatting in the employee break room to various crew members when he was supposedly interrupted by a disgruntled DeGeneres.

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According to Levesque’s friend, DeGeneres was unimpressed with the fact that one of her high-profile celebrity guests was hanging out with civilians. She allegedly told Brand that he “didn’t have to interact with these people,” before adding, “that’s why guests have their own area backstage.”

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Detox, a contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, waded in with a story about an old friend who worked on DeGeneres’ studio lot. She wrote, “[They] smiled and said ‘good afternoon’ to her one day, and she became unhinged. ‘Who do you think you are? You don’t look at me’ yada yada. She said [de Rossi] was with her and seemed embarrassed and tried to calm her down. [That] has forever changed my opinion of her.”

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But DeGeneres’ alleged meanness isn’t just confined to the workplace. Many of the Twitter thread’s contributors claimed that she’s just as hostile when eating out at a restaurant. One user even alleged that a waiter friend had a plate of salmon thrown at them by the comedienne because it wasn’t what she’d ordered.

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A waitress at the Los Angeles vegan restaurant Real Food Daily also alleged that DeGeneres is a woman to be feared. The Twitter user claimed that she nearly lost her job after the star wrote a letter of complaint to management. The problem? DeGeneres had reportedly taken umbrage with the fact that the waitress’ nail polish had been chipped.

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However, among the dozens of negative stories, there were a few more positive ones. Jordan James Smith, an actor, spoke about the time that he rubbed shoulders with both DeGeneres and Beyoncé on a commercial for American Express. He tweeted, “We talked, and I made a joke that made them both laugh. She was actually really nice.”

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And not everyone appreciated Porter’s unique way of raising money. One Twitter user described the DeGeneres-bashing thread – which featured a whole host of stories that couldn’t be proven – as mean-spirited. They added, “Why would you encourage negativity, especially at such a trying time?”

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But it’s not just the general public who’s blasted DeGeneres for her conduct. Caitlyn Jenner once accused the star of ruining her reputation within the LGBTQ community – through the way The Ellen DeGeneres Show had edited comments she’d made about gay marriage. The reality star claimed in her memoir, The Secret of My Life, that the host was more interested in going viral than providing a true representation of their discussion.

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Kathy Griffin has taken umbrage with DeGeneres several times in the past, too. In 2018 she told a Los Angeles comedy show crowd that she’d been upset by the star’s refusal to appear at a tribute to the late Joan Rivers. Griffin said, “I just called her, and I just said, ‘Look, woman to woman, comic to comic, I think you need to let go of your hatred for Joan Rivers. She’s passed away, just do a f***ing tribute, be cool.’”

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But it was Kevin Porter’s Twitter thread that inspired everyone else to share their DeGeneres stories. In fact, nearly 2,000 people replied to the call put out by the comedian – a number which left him overwhelmed. He tweeted, “Well this got out of hand! It’s now hard to tell which stories are real or not, so I’ve rounded up to 300 and donated $600!”

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Porter then encouraged even those without a DeGeneres horror story to be charitable. He wrote, “If you can, please give to your local food banks because they are slammed right now… honestly, be kind, especially to those in the most vulnerable positions right now. But be truly kind. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation.”

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DeGeneres has yet to comment on all of the mean-girl rumors. But in early 2020 she did take to Twitter to confirm that production on her daytime TV show had been postponed. And the star made sure to let everyone know that her staff was at the forefront of her mind.

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DeGeneres told her followers, “So, after some more thought, we have decided to suspend production completely until March 30. We just want to take every precaution to ensure that we do our part to keep everyone healthy. I love you guys, and can’t wait to come back. I’m already bored.”

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DeGeneres later posted a video clip on the same social media platform reiterating the love she had for her behind-the-scenes team. She said, “This was my show staff’s planned spring break week. I’ve asked them all to continue to stay home and disconnect for a week.”

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However, DeGeneres was soon back on Twitter with a big announcement. In a video uploaded to the social media platform, she explained that her eponymous program would be returning in April 2020. The presenter added, “Guess what? We figured out how to do the show from my house. So… we have a camera set up, and we are going to be doing interviews, and it’s going to be fun.”

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Ellen does plenty of good deeds, too. In January 2020, for instance, DeAndre Arnold hit the headlines. His high school had suspended him, you see, when he refused to trim his dreadlocks – a violation of the school’s dress code. But when DeAndre’s plight came to the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, she seemingly felt compelled to invite the teenager onto her show. And while he was in the studio, the young man would receive a shocking surprise.

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A resident of Mont Belvieu, Texas, DeAndre was just like any other senior student prior to his suspension. And with graduation on the horizon, he was naturally preparing himself for the next stage of his young life. But, of course, those plans were thrown out the window when DeAndre returned to high school following winter break.

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Yes, while studying at Barbers Hill High School, DeAndre received some unsettling news – and it was all to do with his dreadlocks. This was despite the fact that the teenager had been sporting the same hairstyle for years. During that time, he had even purposely tied his hair up in order to follow the school’s dress code policy.

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However, DeAndre’s world was turned upside down after the dress code was altered following the winter break. Owing to this revision of the rules, then, he was required to either cut his dreadlocks or face suspension from the school. And the senior student subsequently refused to make the necessary change – although he did explain his decision when appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in January 2020.

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But before we get into DeAndre’s TV shock, it’s important to examine the background to his story. For instance, you may be wondering why the young man had such a firm stance against trimming his dreadlocks given the consequences that awaited him. Well, as it turns out, his reasoning was pretty straightforward.

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You see, DeAndre’s dad originally hailed from Trinidad, where growing dreadlocks is commonplace. And as the teenager wanted to follow that cultural tradition, he ultimately styled his own hair in a similar fashion. When DeAndre adopted the look a few years ago, though, he likely didn’t know that it would eventually spark controversy.

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Regardless, DeAndre has since opened up about his decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Speaking to KPRC in January 2020, he explained, “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. So, I mean I really embrace that.” Still, in addition to adopting the dreadlocks, the student also wanted to respect his school’s dress code.

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So, with that in mind, DeAndre chose to tie his dreadlocks in a bid to keep the hair out of his face. And everything appeared to be fine over the following period, as the Mont Belvieu resident racked up some impressive grades in his classes. He ultimately began to cast his eye to the future, too.

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In particular, DeAndre aspired to one day become a veterinarian – a dream that he seemingly was on track to achieve. Yet despite all of that hard work at school, the youngster’s life took a dramatic turn in the early part of 2020. And it all started after he and his fellow students returned from their winter break.

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Following the Christmas holidays, you see, the school district unveiled an alteration to the dress code that Barbers Hill looked to enforce. And this change was all to do with the length of the boys’ hair, as the high school’s handbook explained.

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The relevant passage in the handbook read, “Male students’ hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the earlobes. Male students’ hair must not extend below the top of a T-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a T-shirt collar, below the eyebrows or below the earlobes when let down.”

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Owing to that last sentence, then, DeAndre was now accused of violating the updated dress code. And, unsurprisingly, the senior student was somewhat perplexed by this new situation at his school, as his hairstyle hadn’t actually changed. During his conversation with KPRC, then, he went on to share his initial reaction.

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DeAndre said to the NBC affiliate, “[The school] say that even though my hair is up and I follow all of the regulations, that if it was down, it would be out of dress code. Not that I’m out of dress code, but if I was to take it down, I would be out of dress code, which doesn’t make any sense. I don’t take it down at school.”

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So, while DeAndre was instructed to trim his beloved dreadlocks, he ignored the school’s demand. And this stance prompted Barbers Hill to give him an ultimatum. The institution intimated, in fact, that the teenager would have a tough choice to make if he wanted to continue having long hair.

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If he did not comply with the order, DeAndre would have to serve an in-school suspension, or ISS. This potentially meant that he would have to complete his studies at an “alternative school.” And to make matters even worse, the student was threatened with being barred from his own graduation ceremony unless he cut his hair.

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After the ultimatum came to light, however, DeAndre’s mom, Sandy Arnold, offered her thoughts to ABC News. In January 2020 she explained, “I refuse to send [DeAndre] to ISS [because] he hasn’t done anything wrong. [I’m angry that the school] never called me because DeAndre was being disrespectful or because of his grades, but because of his hair.”

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And when Sandy spoke with KPRC, she made one thing very clear. Upon being asked if she would trim DeAndre’s dreadlocks, she replied, “Absolutely not. This is his belief. This is a part of who he is. This is his culture. This is what we believe. So absolutely not; I’m not going to cut his hair.”

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With tensions rising, then, the superintendent of Barbers Hill High School released a strong statement of his own. And in this message, Greg Poole reiterated the school’s position on the matter, claiming that staff there wouldn’t be pressured into bending the rules.

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Poole stated, “Our board of trustees, which has included African-American representation, takes their role of representing our local community as one of their chief priorities. We allow any legally accepted religious or medical exemptions to our dress code. [We] have allowed such exemptions in the past.”

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Poole added, however, “We will continue to be a child-centered district that seeks to maximize the potential of every child. Local control is sacred to this country, and we will not be bullied or intimidated by outside influences.” So, with neither side showing any sign of backing down, Sandy eventually pulled DeAndre out of the school.

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On top of that, Sandy suggested that she was willing to file a lawsuit. Speaking to KHOU-TV in January 2020, the teenager’s mother explained, “We’re here for DeAndre, but it’s about more than that. This is about all the other DeAndres that could come through Barbers Hill.”

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But as DeAndre’s tale began generating media interest, he received a surprising message. Yes, it appears that Ellen had caught sight of the story and had decided to get in contact with the teenager. She offered DeAndre a spot on her talk show too, where he could discuss everything that had happened.

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So, just like Ellen’s other guests, DeAndre sat down with the comedian on stage and in front of the studio audience. But this certainly wouldn’t be a standard interview for the show, as the host chose to make clear from the outset.

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As the chat begins, Ellen puts DeAndre at ease by explaining that this is an unusual situation. The pair then discuss the broad strokes of the story, with the teenager bringing up the school’s dress code. Following this moment, though, he’s asked if the female pupils have to abide by the same rules regarding hair.

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DeAndre responds, “There’s plenty of girls with long hair at my school. Like, if girls can have long hair, why can’t I?” This draws a round of applause from the studio audience. And Ellen seems to agree. “I just personally think you should be able to wear your hair however you want,” she says. “Especially if there’s girls with long hair.”

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Ellen then encourages DeAndre to talk about the cultural significance behind his dreadlocks. And the student duly takes this opportunity to speak about his heritage and the importance of his hairstyle – as well as to deliver a stinging message to his high school.

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DeAndre explains, “My hair is really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad. And you know, it’s part of our culture and our heritage. I really wish [that] the school would be open to other cultures and just let us tell [them] some things. Don’t just shut us out.”

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But as the resulting round of applause dies down, Ellen makes an observation of her own. The host says, “Yeah, I think that’s what school’s supposed to do is teach you about other cultures. You’re not supposed to teach them! They’re supposed to teach you.” The pair then go on to discuss the ultimatum that DeAndre had been given.

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And after DeAndre brings up the choices that had been presented to him, Ellen asks him what “alternative school” is. To this, the teenager responds, “Alternative school is where all the kids that have behavioral issues, sell drugs [and] fight all the time [are sent].”

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DeAndre continues, “I wish the best for [those kids]. And I know they have good qualities in them, but I don’t deserve to be grouped with them. I’ve worked [to graduate high school] all my life. I’ve strived for this. I deserve this moment to walk across [the] stage and enter into life.”

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“My parents deserve this,” DeAndre adds. “Like, they’re the ones who, you know, they got me through anything. And they just taught me everything. They deserve to see me walk across the stage [and graduate].” And off the back of this impassioned statement, Ellen asks the senior about his future plans.

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DeAndre confirms that he wants to go to college, as he plans to pursue his desire to become a veterinarian. In the process, he also reveals his love of animals, admitting that their “companionship” and “loyalty” mean a lot to him. And so a clearly impressed Ellen goes on to make a plea to the school.

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Staring directly into the camera, the host says, “I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids. He’s a good guy. I am just urging you to do the right thing. Please. Change your mind!” And it’s after this that DeAndre receives a real shock.

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Following Ellen’s outpouring of support, she motions for one of her other guests to come out. The person in question is Alicia Keys, who as it turns out is carrying a large board in her hands. And after the famous singer/songwriter walks towards DeAndre, she offers her own kind words to the starstruck student.

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Then, Keys finally turns around the board – which is actually a check for $20,000. The money is to help go towards DeAndre’s college education, and naturally the gift leaves the teenager absolutely floored. And the memorable segment comes to a close with Ellen once again pleading on behalf of DeAndre to camera.

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A clip of DeAndre’s time as an Ellen guest was subsequently posted on the show’s official YouTube channel, where it’s since earned in excess of 2.7 million views. And the internet backing for the teen didn’t end with the more than 107,000 likes that the video garnered, either.

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Ultimately, you see, a petition titled “Let DeAndre Arnold March With His Class” was launched on Change.org. And as of March 2020, the goal of 2,500 signatures is very close to being reached, as over 1,800 people have put their names down in support.

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But there would be one more surprising twist in store for DeAndre and his family. As the stand-off with the school continued, the teenager received an invitation to the 2020 Academy Awards. He was asked to attend the event by the director of the animated short film Hair Love, which deals with the subject of African-American hair.

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Then, after accepting the kind gesture from director Matthew Cherry, DeAndre attended the star-studded occasion with Sandy. And as the student walked the red carpet, both he and Cherry were snapped sporting their respective dreadlocks. DeAndre had the chance to voice his appreciation, too, when he took part in a pre-Oscars interview with Refinery29.

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Before the ceremony, DeAndre said, “I’m so grateful. I never expected any of this. The message of [Hair Love] and my message go together so well. I think it’s really amazing how they reached out to me and how we can fight this together. As teenagers, we have a voice, and we’re the future. I want more cultural acceptance.”

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